Doctor Acquitted of Medical Negligence, Patient was given Nitrous Oxide instead of Oxygen


November 13, 2018

Case name: Dr.Muthu Shenbagam v. State

In this recent case, the deceased was admitted at the Government Hospital for family planning operation. For operation, she was administered anesthesia. Later, it was found that the cylinder meant for oxygen was filled with Nitrous Oxide and therefore, instead of administering mixture of oxygen and Nitrous Oxide in a specific proportion, the patient was administered Nitrous Oxide alone.


The Petitioner herein, who was the Assistant Surgeon in the Government Hospital was allegedly in charge of the stores and it has been alleged that he has failed to supervise properly.

The Petitioner has contended that on the day of the incident he was off duty and he is no way connected with the mishap occurred on that day.

Also read Important Judgments on Medical Negligence in India

Madras High Court

In view of the material evidence available on record, the High Court of Madras acquitted the Petitioner and observed as under:

That in none of the relevant documents namely, the indent form, empty cylinder delivery note issued in the name of supplier and the stock register, the Petitioner has affixed his signature to show at his instance that Nitrous Oxide was filled in the impugned Cylinder.

Thus, the High Court was of the view that in such circumstances, the prosecution could not attribute knowledge about change of gas to this revision petitioner and that he cannot even remotely held responsible for filling up of Nitrous Oxide in the cylinder meant for Oxygen.

That  the evidence also showcased that on the day of the incident, the Petitioner was not on duty and no way near the operation theatre, thereby not attracting the ingredients of Sections 284 i.e. negligent conduct, 304-A IPC r/w. 304 IPC.